DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police are searching for the gunman who opened fire on a car of young people, killing a 17-year-old girl and leaving three others in critical condition, in what investigators believe might have been a drug deal gone bad.
The incident unfolded around 9:30 p.m. Monday on Philip Street just south of Charlevoix Street, near the city’s border with Grosse Pointe Park.
Police say five teenagers were in a vehicle parked on the otherwise vacant street when a late-model tan Cadillac pulled up, and a man got out and started firing an automatic weapon.
As many as 30 shots were fired into the vehicle, one fatally striking a 17-year-old girl from Grosse Pointe Farms. Three others — a 16-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl — received gunshot wounds. A 15-year-old girl who was uninjured in the gunfire jumped into the driver’s seat and drove her friends to a nearby hospital.
Police say the three injured teens are all in critical condition, although their names were not immediately released. The deceased victim has been identified as Paige Stalker, a junior at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods.
The teens allegedly told police they had been looking for one of the victims’ brother in the area prior to the shooting. Investigators, however, are working a theory that it might have been a drug deal gone bad. Authorities say at least one of the teens had been smoking marijuana inside the car before the shooting.
“I can tell you we do not believe this was a random attack,” Police Chief James Craig told reporters. “We’re still working very hard to find out what took place. Candidly, there’s some challenge for us in terms of the accounts of what’s taken place. So, we’re asking for full cooperation.”
Police are now searching for the gunman, described as a black male about 6′ tall, wearing a bulletproof vest and army fatigues.
“When suspects are wearing body armor, it tends to suggest that they’re out looking for some crime to get involved in. Particularly if they’re armed, they’re looking for violence,” Craig said. “Again, that part of it is a little murky, we’re not really clear.”
Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt echoed Craig’s statement, saying investigators are getting conflicting statements from the victims.
“I just don’t think that an individual would just randomly walk up to a car and fire in excess of 30 shots at four kids. Something just doesn’t mesh, so we’re trying to figure it out,” he said.
Michelle Martin, director of marketing and communications at University Liggett School, told WWJ that grief support counselors will be on-hand to talk with students when they return from winter break.
“As you can imagine, we are heartbroken over the death of one of our students, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends and to the entire Liggett community during this very difficult time,” Martin said. “Out of respect for her family, we are not releasing any further information.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact police at 313-596-2200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.